How does Chicory Root help Cleanse & Detox?

Our bodies simply do not function at 100 percent when it comes to absorbing good nutrients and expelling toxic or nontoxic waste. Retention of toxins can make us sick in various ways. Fatigue, headaches, indigestion, constipation, insomnia and “mystery” discomforts can all be attributed to toxins doing their evil work in our bodies. Even mental conditions such as depression, anxiety and an inability to focus may result from toxins trapped in the body. They can reside in the liver, kidneys, colon, lungs, skin and the entire lymphatic system.cleanse ans detox picture

Image courtesy of lifehack.org

No wonder many people go overboard with colon cleanses to detoxify and end up with even more problems. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Colon cleansing can sometimes be harmful. In fact, coffee enemas sometimes used in colon cleansing have been linked to several deaths. Colon cleansing can also cause less serious side effects, such as cramping, bloating, nausea and vomiting. Other concerns with colon cleansing are that it can increase your risk of dehydration, lead to bowel perforations, increase the risk of infection and cause changes in your electrolytes, which can be dangerous if you have kidney, heart disease or other health problems.”

A gentler and far more comfortable way to help the body cleanse and detoxify is to take an organic nutritional supplement, especially one that targets the liver, the organ that is key to the elimination of bodily wastes. Kenzen® Cleanse & Detox is a NikkenWellness proprietary blend with roasted organic Chicory Root as one key ingredient. Roasted organic Chicory Root helps support the breakdown of fats by increasing the flow of bile through the liver.* Chicory Root is high in antioxidant compounds, contains a soluble fiber that helps feed digestive flora in the intestines and is a mild laxative.*

Herbalists use Chicory Root as a natural protector of the liver. The ability of Chicory Root extract to protect against chemical-induced free radicals and possible toxicity to the liver was reviewed in a 2015 medical review. Subjects were divided into four groups, according to treatment type, levels of damage and antioxidants reviewed during the process. Pretreatment with Chicory Root extract significantly reduced oxidative stress and prevented cell damage, ultimately improving liver conditions due to toxicity.1

Chicory Root is also a natural prebiotic, which promotes gut health. Inulin is the substance found in Chicory Root that is considered a prebiotic fiber, because it is easily fermented and helps to promote the growth of probiotics in the digestive system. Pre- and probiotics work best in tandem.

The inulin in Chicory Root also helps to relieve constipation. The impact of daily consumption of 15 grams of chicory on elderly constipated volunteers was examined in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study over 28 days. Volunteers in the inulin group reported increased satisfaction with digestion and decreased constipation.2

We’ll be taking a look at other key ingredients in the Kenzen® Cleanse & Detox formulation in the next few weeks.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

  1. PLoS One. 2015 Mar 25;10(3):e0121549. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0121549. eCollection 2015.
  2. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2011 Mar;62(2):164-70. doi: 10.3109/09637486.2010.527323. Epub 2010 Nov 23.

Cherries are delicious AND good for you!

Who knew something so delicious would be so good for us? Cherries are one of nature’s gifts to mankind—beautifully dark red, juicy, sweet or tart—and full of antioxidants that are known to be good for our health! Here are just a few reasons to eat cherries:

  • In a study of more than 600 people with gout, those who ate a half cup serving of cherries (about 10 to 12 cherries) daily had 35 percent lower risk of a subsequent attack. Gout results from too much uric acid forming crystals in the joints, with pain as the body’s inflammatory response. 1
  • According to one study, women with osteoarthritis who drank tart cherry juice twice daily for three weeks had significant reductions in inflammation markers. The researchers noted that tart cherries may have the “highest anti-inflammatory content of any food.”2
  • Melatonin is a powerful antioxidant that helps calm excess inflammation and stress; however, it also plays a role in sleep and bodily regeneration. Cherries contain natural melatonin!
  • Athletes who consumed tart cherry juice prior to long-distance running experienced less discomfort than those who did not. It is believed that cherries have a protective effect that helps reduce muscle aches during strenuous exercise.3
  • Michigan is a world leader in the production of tart cherries, producing up to 75 percent of the U.S. crop. The state’s universities conduct ongoing studies. One study from the University of Michigan’s Cardiovascular Center found that rats that had a high-fat diet tended to gain less weight when tart cherry powder was added to their diets. Researchers believe this is evidence that switching less healthy foods for tart cherries may help in any weight management regimen.4
  • Central Michigan University researchers found that mice that ate cherries performed better in memory–related tests than those that did not. Researchers acknowledge that far more research needs to be done before concluding that cherries can slow neurodegenerative diseases but early signs are very promising.5

In the United States, cherry season ranges from early April/late May through August, with major growers in Michigan, Washington and California. Something we can all enjoy daily, regardless of season, are the Very Cherry Kenzen Paleo Snack™, the new flavor of healthy snacks in the Active Wellness range of nutritional supplements.

1          Arthritis & Rheumatism, Vol. 64, issue 10.

2          Medical News Today, June 1, 2012.

3          J Int Soc Sports Nutr, 2 010 May 7; 7:17.

4          Presented by E. Mitchell Seymour, M.S., Experimental Biology, 2008.

5          Gary Dunbar, Journal of Medicinal Food, 2012.

What’s Real and What’s Not

We live in a world of blurred lines—between real and faux, natural and artificial, original and altered—and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Whether we choose to or not, chances are high that we’ve all ingested GMOs at some time.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as plants, animals or microorganisms with genetic material that has been altered in ways that are not natural (such as mating or natural recombination). The technology used in genetic modification is known as “modern biotechnology “ or “gene technology” and sometimes as “recombinant DNA technology” or “genetic engineering.”

The WHO cites that “one of the objectives for developing plants based on GMOs is to improve crop protection. The GM crops currently on the market are mainly aimed at an increased level of crop protection through the introduction of resistance against plant diseases caused by insects or viruses or through increased tolerance towards herbicides.”

GM foods also were developed to create food with greater nutritional value and durability as well as a lower price, thus enabling the world to feed the starving masses.

Unfortunately, this ideal has not become reality. There is some understanding of the purpose for creating GMOs but worries still run high, especially among consumers who conscientiously make healthy food choices when grocery shopping.

The three main issues concerning GMOs and human health are allergic reactions, gene transfer and outcrossing. Some questions remain unanswered.

  • What happens when genes from allergenic organisms are transferred to non-allergenic ones? According to the WHO, no known allergic reactions have been seen. Does that mean there will not be allergic reactions in the future?
  • What if the transferred genetic material adversely affects human health? What if antibiotic resistant genes, used as markers when creating GMOs were transferred? The probability of transfer is low, according to the WHO.
  • Outcrossing is the migration of genes from GM plants into conventional crops or related species in the wild. What are the direct and indirect effects on food safety? Cases have been reported where GM crops approved for animal feed or industrial use were detected at low levels in the products intended for human consumption.

Opponents of GM crops argue that sustainable agriculture and biodiversity benefit most from the use of a rich variety of crops. They fear that as a result of the interest of the chemical industry in seed markets, the strains used by farmers may be reduced mainly to GM crops. For example, with the development of crops that are resistant against insect pests and tolerant of certain herbicides, the exclusive use of herbicide-tolerant GM crops would make the farmer dependent on these chemicals, placing the control of agricultural development in the virtual hands of the chemical industry.

If you practice Active Wellness and want to stay away from GMOs, eat only fresh, whole, unprocessed foods marked “certified organic” or “USDA organic” and only consume organic nutritional supplements. There are no blurred lines with NikkenWellness products.

Go Mediterranean for Good Nutrition and Health

March is National Nutrition Month®, a nutrition education and information campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to remind people to return to the basics of healthy eating. Although the right diet depends on each individual’s personal needs and state of health, the Mediterranean diet is one that is often recommended.

Eating Mediterranean style is actually easy and best of all, delicious. Here are 10 basics:

  1. Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts. Fruits and vegetables contain vitamins, minerals and fiber. They have a lot of water content and help to provide a feeling of fullness. Preferably, eat locally grown fruits and vegetables that retain the highest nutrient content.
  2. Choose olive oil as your main source of added fat. It’s rich in vitamin E, beta-carotenes and monounsaturated fat.
  3. Incorporate healthful grains into your everyday diet. Carbohydrates have gotten a lot of bad press, but in the Mediterranean diet, moderate consumption of whole grains are a source of energy for a life of Active Wellness.
  4. Consume moderate amounts of dairy products, especially fermented ones such as yogurt, as it is known to contain live micro-organisms that can help improve the balance of good gut bacteria.
  5. Be sure to incorporate fish into your meal plans. Eat it at least once or twice a week. Cold water fish are known to contain omega fatty acids, beneficial for heart health.
  6. Eat eggs. They’re perfect alternatives to meat, high in quality proteins and fat. Once given a bad rap, eggs are now considered a complete food.
  7. Replace baked goods and other desserts with added sugar with fresh fruit. Eating fruit, such as dates, for dessert is common not only with Mediterranean cultures but also in Asian and African traditions.
  8. More than any other beverages, drink water. Water truly sustains healthy living. The Mediterranean diet also incorporates red wine as a healthful beverage, but only in moderation. Nutritionists recommend limiting consumption to no more than one portion daily for women and two for men.
  9. Eat red meat in moderation. If possible, use meat in combination with vegetables, such as in stews. Choose lean meats for their protein content and iron.
  10. Don’t eat processed foods. Processing removes valuable nutrients and enzymes, so you end up with empty calories.

With NikkenWellness organic nutritional supplements to fill in dietary gaps, it’s even easier to get back to the basics of healthy eating!

Sources: dietamediterranea.com, eatright.org

Stevia by any other name would taste as sweet

On our Active Wellness blog, we’ve discussed the harmful effects of sugar consumption. We’ve also shown the hard-to-access monk fruit as a wonderful zero-calorie sweetener. But what can we use as a sweetener that doesn’t have harmful effects and is easily available?

Given the dual epidemics of diabetes and obesity, it’s a good thing that there’s a natural sweetener that has shown virtually no side effects with long-term usage. Unlike artificial sweeteners, stevia has the benefit of zero calories but doesn’t produce adverse effects.

The raw leaves of the stevia plant can be 20 to 40 times sweeter than cane sugar, while the powdered derivative is 200 to 300 times sweeter! What this means is that a little bit of stevia goes a long way. For example, a single teaspoon of stevia extract may have the same sweetening ability as an entire cup of sugar. This ratio varies between brands.

The active compounds of stevia are steviol glycodes (mainly stevioside and rebaudioside). Studies have shown that stevia seems to help in balancing blood sugar levels. Usage of stevia by diabetics has shown significant results. In one of the studies, type 2 diabetic patients took either one gram of stevioside with a meal or one gram of maize starch. The group taking stevioside had a reduction in blood sugar by about 18 percent. 1

Does stevia taste as good as sugar when added to beverages and food? It depends: Some are more concentrated, some contain filler, some have artificial flavoring and some are extremely diluted. Some stevia extracts may also leave a bitter after-taste. And, because stevia is so intensely sweet, it’s important to use it sparingly when replacing the sugar that is generally called for in baking. It may take a bit of trial and error before you decide on the form (liquid or powder), the substitution ratio (sugar vs. stevia) and your preferred brand.

Kenzen Ten4® Energy Drink Mix uses high quality stevia extract from organic stevia leaves as a sweetener, in addition to the mild sweet taste of the organic brown rice solids. (link to What are brown rice solids blog) Drink to your health!

  1. Soren Gregersen, Per B Jeppesen, Jens J Holst, Kjeld Hermansen, Antihyperglycemic effects of stevioside in type 2 diabetic subjects, Metabolism Clinical and Experimental Jan 2004 Vol 53, Issue 1, Pages 73-76.

Mushrooms that Feed the Brain

In Asia, the Lion’s Mane Mushroom is said to give you “nerves of steel and the memory of a lion.” It’s been used by Chinese herbalists for centuries as a general restorative but also has been recognized as positively affecting brain function.

Besides being called Lion’s Mane Mushroom, Hericium erinaceus is known by various other names: bearded tooth fungus, bearded hedgehog, bearded tooth mushroom, “smart mushroom” and in Japan, yamabushitake. The “smart” aspect of the Lion’s Mane Mushroom is the focal point of western researchers, and evidence now exists that this species encompasses characteristics that help improve cognitive function, including memory, attention and creativity.1

In one of the few human studies to date, older adults with mild cognitive impairment were given 250 mg powdered Lion’s Mane Mushroom thrice daily for 16 weeks. Compared with another group that received a placebo, the group taking Lion’s Mane Mushroom scored significantly higher on the cognitive function scale, with no adverse effects. 2

Two unique compounds found in Lion’s Mane Mushroom enable it to nourish the brain. These compounds, hericenones and erinacines, are known as powerful Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) inducers. NGF is a protein that is important in the maintenance, survival and regeneration of neurons in the central and peripheral nervous systems—the compounds are able to cross the blood-brain barrier to stimulate production of neurons.3

Ongoing research continues to confirm the potency and potential of Lion’s Mane Mushroom as a brain and cognition enhancer, and therefore a valuable nutritional supplement, especially as life spans continue to lengthen. Organic Lion’s Mane Mushroom is the first ingredient in the Organic Fermented Brain Support Blend in Kenzen® Clarity, formulated so that your mind stays as nimble as your body in the pursuit of Active Wellness and healthy longevity.

  1. https://www.braintropic.com/nootropics/lions-mane-mushroom/
  2. Koichiro Mori, Satoshi Inatomi, Kenzi Ouchi, Yoshihito Azumi, Takashi Tuchida, Improving effects of the mushroom Yamabushitake (hericium ernaceus) on mild cognitive impairment: a double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Phytother Res.2009 Mar;23(3): 367-72.
  3. Koichiro Mori, Yutaro Obara, Misturu Hirota, Yoshihito Azumi, Satomi Kinugasa, Satoshi Inatomi, Norimichi Nakahata, Nerve growth factor-inducing activity of Hericium erinaceus in 1321N1 human astrocytoma cells, Colorectal Dis. 2007 Jul;9(6):549-52.

Mushrooms may help us lose weight and much more…

Mushrooms are a nutrient-dense food that are low-calorie, and when cooked or grilled, take on the consistency of some meat. Studies find that substituting mushrooms for meat may help us lose weight. Eating mushrooms as part of a meal several times a week is linked to a healthy body weight, reduced waist circumference and better overall health.1

But mushrooms provide far more benefits than just promoting weight loss. Mushrooms have been part of the Asian herbal tradition for thousands of years—practitioners of Chinese medicine have used a variety of mushrooms to prevent and address a host of physical and mental conditions. Much research has been conducted in the past decades.

Since there are an estimated 14,000 different species of mushrooms or “macrofungus,” research indicates that scientists may only know about 10 percent of them. They differ in benefits and nutrient count, but they’re mostly low in carbs, fat, sodium and sugar, and high in antioxidants, B vitamins, copper and selenium. Mushrooms are 90 percent water and therefore low in calories.

Scientists and health practitioners have taken a particular interest in the anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting traits of certain species of mushrooms.

The global appetite for herbal alternatives to chemical drugs has grown by leaps and bounds—annual sales of these products account for a big chunk of the wider market for nutritional supplements that is valued at $50 billion and seems impervious to the economic instability that has affected other business sectors. 2

Lab studies have shown various immune-enhancing and anti-aging effects with the Reishi, Shiitake, Cordyceps, Maitake and Oyster mushrooms.4 In addition to these five species, Kenzen® Immunity contains nine others. In fact Kenzen® Immunity contains six strains exclusive to Nikken, developed for the highest concentration of beneficial compounds. It would be virtually impossible to include such a high variety of mushrooms in a regular diet, so Nikken has formulated this superior nutritional supplement in order to provide a wide-spectrum range of natural biochemicals that support Active Wellness.

  1. http://healthsomeness.com/mushrooms-fattening-weight-loss
  2. A Global Look at Supplements on the Rise, 10 March 2014 http://www.nutringredients.com
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles
  4. https://thewholejourney.com/5-mushrooms-that-boost-immunity-and-fight- cancer/