Category Archives: Know Your Foods

Rhodiola rosea: The golden root

Rhodiola rosea also known as “golden root” or “roseroot” belongs to the plant family Crassulaceae and is found primarily in arctic areas of Europe, Alaska and Asia. It has a long history of use as a medicinal plant in Iceland, Sweden, France, Russia, and Greece. It is mentioned by the Greek physician Dioscorides as early as the first century AD.
Rhodiola is used for many conditions, but so far, there isn’t enough scientific evidence to determine whether or not it is effective for any of them.  It is used for increasing energy, stamina, strength and mental capacity; and as a so-called “adaptogen” to help the body adapt to and resist physical, chemical, and environmental stress. It is also used for improving athletic performance, shortening recovery time after long workouts, improving sexual function; for depression; and for heart disorders such as irregular heartbeat and high cholesterol.

Rhodiola extracts might help protect cells from damage, regulate heartbeat, and have the potential for improving learning and memory. However, none of these effects have been studied in humans. Rhodiola is currently marketed under the brand names of Rhodax, Rosavin, and Arctic root, to name a few.

Does it work? Research regarding R. rosea efficacy is contradictory. While some evidence suggests that the herb may be helpful for enhancing physical performance and alleviating mental fatigue, methodological flaws limit accurate assessment of efficacy. A rigorously-designed well reported randomised controlled trial that minimizes bias is needed to determine true efficacy of Rhodiola rosea for fatigue.

A number of brands exist in the market which provides 50-680 mg of Rhodiola. The average dose of Rhodiola rosea is between 200 mg and 400 mg per day of an extract that is standardized to contain rosavins and salidrosides in a 3:1 ratio. This mimics the ratio of these compounds that naturally occur in R. rosea root. The formulations available in market are quantified depending on the end use.

Is it safe? Rhodiola is possibly safe when taken by mouth, short-term (for up to 6-10 weeks). The safety of long-term use is not known. The potential side effects of rhodiola are not known. When taken orally, rhodiola may cause dizziness, dry mouth, and headaches in some people. People can have allergic reactions to rhodiola. Rhodiola rosea has an excellent safety profile, according to a study reported in “The Journal of the American Botanical Council.” The lethal dose of Rhodiola rosea has been determined by animal toxicity studies to be 3,360 mg/kg. The toxic dose for an average 70 kg adult would be around 235,000 mg, and with clinical doses around 200 to 600 mg per day, patients likely have no need to worry about a fatal overdose.

Is it healthy? Because of the lack of long term research and trials on humans it cannot be ascertained that whether Rhodiola rosea’s intake is healthy. Clinical trials on the affectivity and safety of Rhodiola rosea in humans are lacking. Nothing can be said with conviction regarding the efficacy of rhodiola for improving endurance or reducing stress and other documented benefits. The research on the functioning does indicate that it might benefit athletes to some extent but this belief in the herb needs to be further strengthened by having more randomised control trials.

Nutrients affecting Digestive Health

digestive systemWe need a healthy digestive system to assimilate the food we eat; but little do we know that these nutrients are also needed to keep the digestive system healthy. From A to D, essential vitamins play key roles in maintaining digestive health. In most cases you can get these nutrients from the daily diet; but those with certain gastrointestinal diseases may need supplements, however always consult a doctor first. Read on to learn which vitamins are the most important for healthy digestion and how to incorporate them into your eating habits.

B Vitamins

These vitamins are found in proteins such as fish, poultry, meat, and dairy products, whole grain cereals, pulses, fruits like bananas, green vegetables and eggs. B vitamins are water-soluble, thus you cannot store them to use later; they need to be a regular part of your diet.

Essential B vitamins for the digestive system include:

  • B1: helps the body change the carbohydrates in diet into energy.
  • B3: is important for many digestive tract functions, including the breakdown of carbohydrates, fats, and alcohol.
  • B6: is very important in helping digestive system process the protein in the diet.
  • Biotin:This B vitamin helps the digestive system produce cholesterol and process proteins, carbohydrates, and fatty acids.
  • B12: plays a role in the nervous system, the production of blood cells, and the body’s use of folic acid and carbohydrates.

Vitamin C

Because it is an antioxidant, many people associate vitamin C with the immune system and preventing colds, but it also aids in digestion by supporting healthy teeth and gums and helping the body absorb iron. Food sources include: Citrus fruits (oranges, lemon, mausmi), berries (e.g. amla), tomatoes, peppers, broccoli.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps the body in absorbing calcium and plays a key role in how the nerves, muscles, and immune system function. Also healthy levels of vitamin D are associated with a reduced risk for colon cancer. There are three ways you can get vitamin D: Sun exposure, Vitamin D-rich foods, such as egg yolks, saltwater fish, liver, and fortified milk and cereal and supplements.

If you are not getting enough vitamin D from sunlight and food, talk to your doctor about a supplement. Keep in mind that you may already be taking a supplement that contains vitamin D. e.g. many calcium supplements also contain vitamin D.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is involved primarily in boosting vision, bone, and reproductive health, as well as helping the immune system. Sources of vitamin A include liver, whole milk and its products, cod liver oil, kidney, egg, fish, meat and some fortified food products; colourful fruits and vegetables (yellow, orange and dark green leafy ones like carrot, papaya, tomato, capsicum, mango, apricot, spinach, fenugreek, etc. Although vitamin A is not directly involved in digestion, some gastrointestinal diseases can leave you vulnerable to a vitamin A deficiency.

So follow the mantra: Eat healthy to keep your digestive system healthy.