Pomegranate updates are on another site – stay tuned

My to do list has been over do for completion, in the meantime I have added more updates regarding the pomegranate extract recipe and additional information I found about the health benefits of Sumac, a traditional Middle Eastern spice.

See: http://transcendingsquare.com/?s=pomegranate+extract

or: http://transcendingsquare.com/?s=sumac

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

Master Chef Challenge – Pomegranate Peel

Eight pomegranates later I’m glad to report that making pomegranate extract in the home kitchen is possible and the product can be used in a variety ways. Whether or not it has health benefits would need to be determined by clinical trials and chemical analysis and/or by the individual user at their own risk. But someone needs to be patient number one and being a professionally trained quantity foods and individual diet planner and producer helped give me the knowledge base I needed to turn the animal based research into a home kitchen recipe.

Background info – “an extract” of a food could be considered in Master Chef terms as either a raw, fresh squeezed juice or as a heated/simmered tea or soup stock.

Tea: A tea is generally made from dried herbs or dried fruit or flowers and is usually steeped for about 15-20 minutes for herbal tea or for one and half to four or five minutes for a green tea or black tea. Over steeping tea leaves can release an excess amount of the more bitter tannins which can have negative health effects of blood clotting for some people, (more on tannins in different types of tea: livestrong.com), and less healthy oxalic acid which can be a problem for people with kidney stones. (Rooibus, red tea, does not have oxalic acid. (beliefnet.com)) (Cold brewing (tching.com) may release less tannin content; although some tannins can have health benefits and some people get used to stronger more bitter black tea.

Soup stock: Soup stock may be made from washed and trimmed parts of vegetables that are not being used or are too fibrous for use in a food being prepared for direct consumption. A bone stock is simmered or roasted for a couple hours to release as much nutrient content as possible from the bone marrow (inner part of the bones) and cartilage and other trim that isn’t pure fats. A vegetable stock is simmered for less time as the nutrients from vegetables are released in a shorter amount of time, twenty to thirty minutes usually is adequate to release full flavor without destroying nutrients and flavor from over heating.

Juice: A good quality juicer is needed which the average home kitchen typically does not have. And a juicer can only handle soft fruits or vegetables of a consistent quality, carrots are generally possible but tougher seeds or peels need to be removed from other vegetables or fruits. Orange peel can not be juiced and would likely taste too bitter for making a quantity of juice. I use a sprinkle, 1/8 th teaspoon of minced dried lemon peel in soup which I add at the table rather than to the soup pot to retain more of the aroma and redcue risk of break down of the flavor or phytonutrients during the cooktime of a soup.

Pomegranate peel is very tough and is fairly dry. The soft whitish inner membrane could be run through a juicer but the brilliantly colored reddish peel also likely contains healthy phytonutrients and makes up more of the volume of the trim leftover after removing the juicy seeds.  Research on pumpkin seed kernels revealed that toasting them increases phospholipid content and that is a nutrient that can have health benefits for promoting Nrf2 and other health promoting needs for the body. So my kitchen trials focused on making a soup stock type of pomegranate peel/membrane extract. I tried batches simmered for 20 minutes which retained more color and for 30 minutes which broke down more of the pulp and resulted in a thicker, creamier extract. Both products seem to help my health symptoms and improve my energy level and mood.

Two large pomegranates.

Eight pomegranates later:

  1. For a concentrated product meant for frequent use I would recommend using organically grown pomegranates as the commercial growers may use glyphosate for weed control between the rows of pomegranate trees/shrubs. (Pomegranate trees/shrubs can survive 200 years – invest now – they can take 5-6 years to become fully producing but can have multiple trunks which resprout regularly and can be divided easily to create more rows of trees or should be pruned to reduce energy lost to the fruiting branches. they need a fairly dry climate but with some regular ground water or irrigation, excessive rainy or humid seasons increase risk of infection in the blossoms and tend to produce less quality fruit. So pomegranates are a good crop to consider investing in as we head into a drier, hotter planet, regions that are less ideal right now may become ideal in a decade or two. (Pomegranate growing tips: California, Georgia))
  2. The fruit is likely coated in a food grade wax to help it remain fresh longer. Washing the outer surface before cutting is a good idea, I just rinsed mine rather than using any special produce washing chemical. (Example of a product designed to remove food grade waxes. TraderJoe’s Fruit and Vegetable Wash) Glyphosate may be a chemical that is actually taken up into the produce or animal product so washing the exterior would not remove hypothetical risk from produce grown with it. (The chemical, glyphosate,is very similar to an amino acid, glycine, and it may be incorporated directly into protein structures in place of molecules of glycine, hypothetically. This theory needs more research; which wouldn’t be difficult for professional chemists with access to radioactive marking chemicals – radioactive label the glyposate; grow the product with the standard application rate of glyphosate/Roundup; and then test the produce, or animals that were fed with the produce, for presence of the radioactively labeled glyphosate – not a task for the home kitchen chef).
  3. Remove the juicy seeds and trim the peel and membrane of any discolored spots. It is not uncommon to have some brownish areas and a few bad seeds. Just trim away the discolored areas and discard. Cut away the discolored inner part that would be white from areas of the tougher rind that is still colorful rather than brownish to preserve more of the fruit. (math to add later, I measured yield to get an average, * see the end of the post for the details.)
  4. If a larger quantity of pomegranates are available to make a big batch of extract then any excess seeds that won’t be able to be used fresh can simply be put in a freezer bag or container and frozen for later thawing to use fresh on salad or as a snack or dessert fruit. I rinsed the seeds before freezing to remove any residue left from the occasional bad/rotten seeds. The pomegranate tips I read suggested a simple method to trim many pomegranates was to score the rind in half and then sixths or eighths; and fill a clean sink or large container with water and remove the seeds under water. Good seeds tend to be heavy and sink and bad seeds and the membrane and rind tend to float. Skim off the top layer of floating seeds and membrane and separate and trim the good parts of the inner membrane and rind and discard any decayed rind or seeds. Drain the bowl or sink and remove the seeds and sort for any bits of membrane. I didn’t try this method. I sorted god and bad seeds into separate bowls and trimmed the pile of peel/membrane of discolored areas afterward. Using food safe gloves might help protect the skin if prepping a large batch. The juice is acidic and can be a little drying to the skin. Put the seeds in a refrigerator container to use fresh or a freezer container to store for later use.
  5. I chopped the trimmed peel and inner membrane into roughly a quarter inch dice to try to maximize how much phospholipid and other phytonutrients might be released during the simmering phase. The extract might be as potent with a larger chop or no extra chopping. I didn’t experiment with that aspect – all batches were made with a quarter inch dice.
  6. I tried varying amounts of water with the chopped membrane and found it was easiest to work with when more was used, about one cup of water per one cup of diced peel worked fairly well for draining afterwards. One large pomegranate produced about two cups of diced membrane. I added one teaspoon of cold pressed organic coconut oil to the water/peel mixture in a large nonstick stockpot (or saucepan depending on the amount I was making). A little extra oil can help some phytonutrients be released from produce – (tomato sauce made with a little oil has more available lycopene content then tomato products made without oil or the fresh tomato.)
  7. Bring the peel/water/coconut oil mixture to a simmer at medium high heat ( a few minutes) and promptly turn down the heat to medium or low, cover with a lid, and continue at a gentle simmer (barely bubbling) for 20-30 minutes. Try not to overheat which might be noticed as a caramelized sugary smell or membrane fiber sticking to the bottom of the pan. Stirring occasionally can help.
  8. Drain the extract in a metal colander or soup stock wire mesh skimmer (example). Store in glass or metal until cooled as hot liquids can interact with some types of plastic and cause plastic molecules to enter the food. I rinsed the leftover peel with a few additional cups of water and got a second and third batch of more dilute extract that also had flavor and some health symptom relief effects. Master Chef challenge – there’s probably easier ways to do this. I did try running one batch of the softened membranes through a juicer and it didn’t really work, turned it to pulp, a blender would have done that, but the taste is very bitter, the extract is bitter enough without adding the actual peel (I sampled a little, sugar can’t help everything taste better.)
  9. Use the extract fresh or freeze the excess. It is quite acidic and fairly concentrated. To drink it as a juice I diluted with water, doubling roughly the volume and adding an ounce of 100% cherry juice and a spoonful of sugar helped the flavor, but pH strips and my stomach told me the acidity is the main issue with making it tolerable to drink. It is more acidic than coffee. I started adding baking soda as I do to my coffee but instead of one pinch per cup of coffee I ended up needing four pinches to get the pH adjusted to around a 6.0 it started at 4 or less (water is ~ a 7.0) (I happened to have pH strips on hand).
  10. I also tried the extract in a thick bean/rice vegetable soup, adding about an 1/8 to 1/4 cup of the more concentrated extract per couple bowls of soup to thin it for reheating and a little addition of something acidic can help with digestion, especially for older people (about 3 cups of soup). I regularly add a spoonful or two of lemon/lime juice to my bowls of bean soup or one spoonful of apple cider vinegar Iit is slightly more acidic). I tried a slightly smaller amount in the same soup for a group of people and while they all weren’t regular bean soup eaters they all found it okay and a couple of them liked it. (The chocolate chip cookies were more popular.)

My health symptoms seem to be more stable with the addition of extract  to my diet than they were with the 1/3 to 2/3 cup of pomegranate seeds each day. The other advantage is that freezing extract and seeds could help make it easier to have a reliable year round source for something that is needed for a daily health need.

The unchopped peel in the scale, a large bowl of good seeds and a small bowl of a few discolored seeds. This pomegranate didn’t really have many bad spots.
The chopped, 1/4 inch dice, raw peel and inner membrane.
The raw chopped peel and water before heating.
A large batch of the extract with peel and membrane after cooking 30 minutes.
A pan with drained extract and a colander with the leftover larger peel – this batch was cooked for 20 minutes.
A little chilled coconut oil is floating on top of the containers prepped to freeze.

Math yield:

The large pomegranate averaged more seeds but the total peel/membrane ended up being only a little more than from the small size. However the small ones I had were fresher and had fewer bad spots to trim so less waste may have been the major difference. The size difference isn’t type, it depends on when the blossom was pollinated. The pomegranate can have a few blossom setting times during the spring and blossoms that pollinate early produce large fruit and later ones produce smaller fruit. Or a shorter or drier growing season or less fertilizer applied to the rows may also result in smaller fruit. Pomegranate are usually sold by unit price rather than by pound so a larger fruit averaged about twice the size of the small size and would be a better deal if the price was per unit/ per fruit rather than by weight.

The large fruit, (six), averaged 18 1/4 ounces, 510 grams. And provided an average of 11 1/4 ounces, 306 grams, good seeds, and 7 ounces good peel/membrane, 195 grams, and 3 1/4 ounces bad seed/peel, 106 grams.

The small fruit, (two), averaged 9 3/4 ounces, 270 grams. And provided an average of 4 ounces good seeds, 110 grams, and 4 3/4 ounces good peel/membrane, 123 grams, and 1/4 ounce bad seed/peel, 6 grams.

The total extract made depended on how much water I used and the concentration varied so it would be difficult to give any accurate yield but roughly the amount of water used resulted in a similar amount of extract produced. Each pomegranate roughly produced two to three cups of concentrated extract which needs to be diluted with another two t three cups of water or soup to be palatable.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

The idea of taking one capsule of ‘Nrf2 Activator’ seems unrealistic – to me

This is a continuation of the last post which expanded on a topic brought up in the previous post. Nrf2 is an important chemical produced within the body when hormone D is available to turn on the gene that encodes Nrf2 and then Nrf2 can activate many other genes which are the map/encode/are the recipe card for proteins which are our own natural antioxidants and which are important for detoxifying the oxidative stress free radicals which are a natural part of energy production – turning glucose/blood sugar into usable energy.

The idea of taking one capsule of an ‘Nrf2 Activator’ seems great and might seem like a natural idea to our medicine mindset, however medicine and food are different. Medicines that can be taken in one pill per day tend to be something that triggers other events and which might not be needed within every single cell. Food on the other hand is needed in every single cell, like if every cell were its own Taxi cab in need of gasoline and motor oil and radiator fluid and windshield wiper fluid and whatever other things go on within a motor vehicle – we just think about the gasoline because it is needed most often but the car also needs those other fluids which can be reused for awhile. Medicine in a single pill per day type is more like the windshield wiper fluid or motor oil – it lasts awhile but eventually runs out or becomes less efficient.

A brief glance at the list of phytonutrients and foods that help promote production of Nrf2 suggests that since it is needed in every single cell of the body – as energy production and free radical production take place in every single cell – that it needs to be produced in a larger quantity and more regularly throughout the day then any one capsule might be able to promote/activate.

Magic bullet/one pill a day medications are not the same as the essential building blocks of the bulk macronutrients, protein, fats, and carbohydrates; or even the same as the trace micronutrients, the vitamins, minerals, phospholipids and essential amino acids, fatty acids and essential sugars/starches (specialized types of carbohydrates), which are needed in smaller amounts then the bulk supply of protein, carbohydrates and fats. Improving intake of any one group is going to help health but to really help improve health all the groups, macro and micronutrients, are needed on a regular basis. Some can be stored longer than a day or two because they are fat soluble and are stored within cell membranes and other fat storage areas of the body but even those run out eventually. Vitamin D is a trace nutrient that can be made within our bodies during sun exposure if adequate cholesterol is available (it is a slight chemical modification of the cholesterol molecule) and supplies that are made during summertime in areas with seasonal changes can last throughout most of the winter but tend to start running out during early spring/late winter.

Skipping ahead a bit – I have several of the chronic conditions that were listed in the last post and I have several genetic differences from average that may be making it more likely for me to have difficulties producing some of the important factors involved in detoxifying oxidative stress chemicals. I have managed to change my diet enough to feel better and to have the chronic conditions be considered ‘in remission’ but I know that it has to do with my daily habits in diet and in the supplements that I’ve added to my daily routine. When I get forgetful or too stressed to remember the supplements or start eating fewer of the healthy foods I’ve added my symptoms can start returning very quickly. So the idea of taking one capsule of ‘Nrf2 Activator’ per day seems like a nice but very unrealistic idea. Every cell of the body produces free radicals all day long, they need antioxidants all day long, which means they need Nrf2 helping promote production of our own natural antioxidants – all day long.

I’ll get back to the menu and recipe ideas shortly but first a list of the supplements I take  – the herbal supplements can vary somewhat from month to month as they may all be beneficial but they all cost some money but they don’t cost as much as expensive hospital bills or expensive pharmaceuticals (chemotherapy for cancer can cost a quarter of a million dollars). I have to avoid some nutrients as my genetic condition leaves me at risk of excess for some things and my autoimmune hyperthyroid condition is made worse by too much iodine intake so I take some B vitamins and trace minerals as individual supplements everyday but I’m only going to list the herbal supplements here. They may be beneficial because they are likely to have some of the list of phytonutrients mentioned as promoting Nrf2 in the last post. I’m sharing this list not as a recommendation but as an example of what I find helpful to help keep my own autoimmune, chronic inflammatory bowel, migraine, chronic pain and itch problems mostly in remission and help with mood stability as I’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder in the last few years – it can be made worse by menopause or may be menopause, I’m hoping to get more stable moods as I move further through ‘the change.’

-I try to get only supplements with vegetarian gelatin or gelatin free and free of modified food starch as those ingredients may make my health worse – in alphabetical order for ease of reference:

  1. Artemisinin – 200 mg, I just added this one, I’m not sure if I will continue it past the first bottles that I ordered.
  2. Astragalus – 500 mg – this is also a recent addition.
  3. Black Cohosh – 300 mg – this is for menopausal female support.
  4. Dong Quai – 1.13 grams – also for menopausal female support.
  5. A mixture for menopause support which contains Maca extract, Angelica gigas, Pholomis umbrosa, Cynanchum wilfordii, and Cordyceps extract (a beneficial mushroom). – 1590 mg total for the mixture. This is a recent addition but I’ve found the Black Cohosh and Dong Quai helpful for a few years.
  6. While on the area of menopause support I also have used a topical Wild Yam Extract cream for a natural source of progesterone. I’m better with it then without. Menopause for women starts as peri-menopause and the process can last more than a decade.
  7. Gingko Bilobo – 60 mg. I’ve taken this off and on for many years. It may be helpful for mental sharpness/brain vascular system. My migraines may have to do with blood vessel problems.
  8. Kava Root – 800 mg – I have taken this for a few months as it may help promote more stable mood and my mood swings were quite bad for a while.
  9. Milk Thistle – 1260 mg/ 240 mg active phytonutrients – This may help with liver health and I added when reading about the importance of the liver for basically everything else in the body. I’ve only been taking it for a few months/ half a year.
  10. Oil of Oregano – 60 mg – I eat Italian Seasoning in teaspoon quantities on my salads, it is an herb mix containing oregano however the health benefits are suggested to be beneficial for general health and the oil is a more concentrated source. Eating larger quantities of oregano would be very strong flavor. I’ve been taking the concentrated oil for at least a half a year or more, it seems helpful. It is difficult to really know if something helps – it is easier to tell once you run out of something and don’t replace it if you start feeling a little worse again.
  11. Resveratrol – 250 mg, with Quercetin – 150 mg – I’ve taken both of these off and on for many years. They are both antioxidants that may help with skin health and general well being is a good general term.
  12. Slippery Elm Powder – 400 mg – I’ve taken this off and on over the years whenever I have a bad cold with a sore throat as it was in a soothing tea. The herb provides a mucilaginous protective coating to the digestive lining. More recently I added it about a year ago when my digestive problems began – it’s my go to herb for gastrointestinal tract problems. Marshmallow Root powder would act similarly. I have recently also been having a Tablespoon of Chia seeds in water everyday as they also help the GI tract in a similar way. Water soluble fiber is another term for mucilaginous substances.

So taking one bottle with one capsule per day of an Nrf2 Activator sounds like a nice idea for a pharmaceutical representative but not for dietitian recommendation.

The list of phytonutrients, for convenience:

Specific foods or phytochemicals mentioned to help increase Nrf2 include:

  • sulforaphane from cruciferous vegetables, (such as broccoli and cauliflower);
  • foods high in phenolic antioxidants, (This is a large group including bright yellow and red fruits and vegetables, and deep purple produce. The group includes the subgroup flavonoids which include anthocyanins, flavonols, and it also includes the less familiar subgroup chalcones which are found in the commonly used fruits apples, pears and strawberries. The group also includes aldehydes which are found in vanilla and cinnamon, phenolic acids which include salicyclic acid, and tannins which are found in tea, coffee and wine. Baking cocoa and cherries, beans and whole grains are also mentioned, the summary point would be eat more fruits and vegetables; see: (11))
  • the long-chained omega-3 fats DHA and EPA, (salmon, tuna, sardines, krill oil, ground flax meal, walnuts, hemp seed kernels);
  • carotenoids (especially lycopene), (such as carrots, winter squash, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, apricots, and lycopene is in tomato, watermelon, pink grapefruit, guava); 
  • sulfur compounds from allum vegetables, (such as onions, garlic, shallots, green onions); 
  • isothiocyanates from the cabbage group and
  • terpenoid-rich foods. (Terpenes are found in real lemon and lime oil, rosemary, oregano, basil and other aromatic green herbs).
  • The Mediterranean and the traditional Okinawan Diets are also mentioned as being Nrf2 promoting diets. See: (1)

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

Nrf2: helps activate beneficial genes, protective against inflammatory disease

Nrf2 is an acronym for a substance that helps activate genes that protect against oxidative stress and the resulting inflammation from excess oxidative chemicals. Nrf2 is a lot easier to remember then: nuclear factor erythroid-2-related factor 2 (Nrf2). 

The list of chronic illnesses and genetic conditions that it may help prevent or treat is also quite long. The protective benefits against electromagnetic field radiation that was discussed in the last post may be due to the genes activation and resulting increased protection against oxidative stress chemicals – and this mechanism may be the same pathway for its beneficial role in preventing or treating the long list chronic illnesses.

It has been studied by a number of different groups in the prevention or treatment of: 

  • Cardiovascular diseases including atherosclerosis, ischemic cardiovascular disease, vascular
    endothelial dysfunction, and heart failure;
  • Neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS, Huntington’s diseases;
  • Cancer (prevention);
  • Chronic kidney diseases;
  • Metabolic diseases: Type 2 diabetes; metabolic syndrome; obesity;
  • Several types of toxic liver disease; (not from the pdf article (1) – Nrf2 helps the liver to better utilize free fatty acids and triglycerides as an alternate energy source during times of starvation/malnutrition, which speculatively then, a deficiency of Nrf2 might be a factor in fatty liver disease (8))
  • Chronic lung diseases including emphysema, asthma, and pulmonary fibrosis;
  • Sepsis;  — (sepsis is a serious type of infection that spreads throughout the blood system.)
  • Autoimmune diseases;
  • Inflammatory bowel disease;
  • HIV/AIDS;
  • Multiple sclerosis;
  • Epilepsy;
  • See Table 1 for the list of studies regarding Nrf2 and the above conditions: (1).

Other diseases or conditions that may also be helped by adequate levels of Nrf2 have been less well studied but the same mechanism of reducing oxidative stress might also benefit in the prevention or treatment of:

  • “hemoglobinopathies including sickle cell
    disease and β-thalassemia [35], malaria [36],
  • spinal cord injury [37], traumatic brain injury [38,39],
  • altitude sickness [40,41], the
    three classic psychiatric diseases, major depression,
    schizophrenia and bipolar disorder [42–45],
  • gastric ulcers [46,47],
    glaucoma [48], age-related macular degeneration [49],
    cataract [50,51],
  • pathophysiological responses to herpes
    activation [52] and
  • benign prostatic hyperplasia [53,54].”
  • Nrf2 was reported to lower skin sensitization produced by sensitizing chemicals [57,58].” — (“skin sensitization..” – this likely refers to chronic itch type of conditions that are exacerbated by chemicals that activate TRP channels, which I discuss in more detail in a series of posts. TRP channels are also a big topic that could use more discussion time: (2, 3, 4, 5,))
  • See page 3, for the quotes and see the citation list of the pdf for the [__] references: (1).

Those are some common and severe conditions – so why aren’t we all aware of Nrf2? I don’t know. Possibly because the suggested treatment by the research discoveries are simple dietary changes which are not high profit margin treatments. However the list of foods that may help happens to overlap with those that I’ve been finding helpful for my own autoimmune and undiagnosed digestive problems. (There is a website with guidance about products that may be falsely claiming to have peer-reviewed studies showing that they are effective as Nrf2 activating compounds 2300 articles are mentioned as having been published on the topic of Nrf2, so I have some reading to catch up on. See: (9).)

So skipping the medical jargon, I’ll share some recipes and menu ideas that incorporate some of these foods and phytonutrients (list from the last post, the phytonutrients were quoted from this pdf: (1)

Specific foods or phytochemicals mentioned to help increase Nrf2 include:

  • sulforaphane from cruciferous vegetables, (such as broccoli and cauliflower);
  • foods high in phenolic antioxidants, (This is a large group including bright yellow and red fruits and vegetables, and deep purple produce. The group includes the subgroup flavonoids which include anthocyanins, flavonols, and it also includes the less familiar subgroup chalcones which are found in the commonly used fruits apples, pears and strawberries. The group also includes aldehydes which are found in vanilla and cinnamon, phenolic acids which include salicyclic acid, and tannins which are found in tea, coffee and wine. Baking cocoa and cherries, beans and whole grains are also mentioned, the summary point would be eat more fruits and vegetables; see: (11))
  • the long-chained omega-3 fats DHA and EPA, (salmon, tuna, sardines, krill oil, ground flax meal, walnuts, hemp seed kernels);
  • carotenoids (especially lycopene), (such as carrots, winter squash, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, apricots, and lycopene is in tomato, watermelon, pink grapefruit, guava); 
  • sulfur compounds from allum vegetables, (such as onions, garlic, shallots, green onions); 
  • isothiocyanates from the cabbage group and
  • terpenoid-rich foods. (Terpenes are found in real lemon and lime oil, rosemary, oregano, basil and other aromatic green herbs).
  • The Mediterranean and the traditional Okinawan Diets are also mentioned as being Nrf2 promoting diets. See: (wakeup-world.1)

Menu ideas, a start –

  • Add more fruits and vegetables to any meal or snack.
  • Add a dash of real lemon or lime juice to salads or soups. A large spoonful can help aid digestion as we reach middle age. The digestive system tends to produce less natural acidity and it is needed for better absorption of B vitamins. Or sprinkle fresh lemon or lime zest grated from the peel or add a teaspoon of Ground Dried Lemons / Citron Seche Moulu / Limon Seco Molido which may be available at an India foods market. A spoonful of apple cider vinegar or other food grade vinegar could also aid digestion but would not provide the terpenoids found in lemon or lime oil. High quality apple cider vinegar or wine vinegar may contain other beneficial phytonutrients from the phenolic group from the above list as apples and wine are sources of some types.
  • Add a teaspoonful or more or less or any, to taste, of dried green leafy herbs to your salad or soup for aromatic terpenoids and likely phenolic phytonutrients as well; such as Basil, Cilantro, Italian Seasoning, Tarragon, Thyme. Basil and Cilantro are mild and are also used fresh in larger amounts as part of the salad greens. Basil is used fresh or dried in larger amounts in Pesto sauces. Parsley is also used fresh in larger amounts in Tabouli salads.
  • The herb Rosemary is also a good source of terpenoids but is slightly like pine needles and needs to be added to a dish that will be cooked about 20 minutes for better texture. I enjoy Rosemary with beta carotene rich orange flesh Sweet Potatoes which I cook as a skillet scalloped potato. I first saute an Onion sliced in thin rings (allium group) and then add thinly sliced triangles of Sweet Potato so they cook fairly quickly and a teaspoon to a tablespoon of Rosemary. Rosemary is strongly flavored and accidentally spilling too much in the pan can leave the dish inedible, scoop out the excess.
  • Rosemary is a medicinal herb which may help with pain and in traditional folk medicine has been used as a strong tea for pain and inflammation conditions but several cups can have a diuretic effect similar to too much coffee.
  • While discussing hot beverages, Herbal Teas, Green Teas and Black Teas, and Coffee provide phenolic phytonutrients and other antioxidants.
  • Chamomile is a medicinal herb that is frequently used as an Herbal Tea. It has been studied in animal based cell research to increase Nrpf2. (10) The amount used in a cell based study is not something that I could calculate a human recommended serving size for but the traditional medicinal information is available here: (12), caution against its use for asthma, and some seasonal allergy sufferers is mentioned and it is not recommended for use in pregnancy due to a possible risk of miscarriage. Chamomile is a tiny daisy like flower with white petals and a yellow center. The bright yellow center may be a source of phenolic nutrients. (11) Medicinal uses mention digestive and skin complaints, inflammation, relief from muscle contractions, particularly in the intestines, and relief from anxiety. (12)
  • Baking Cocoa is also a source of some phenolic and antioxidant nutrients and can quickly be made into a cup of Hot Cocoa by boiling  a cup of water and adding one or two large spoonfuls of the baking cocoa powder, to taste, along with a spoonful of sweetener. If richness is desired a half teaspoon of Coconut Oil can be stirred in for a hint of creaminess. Less processed/cold pressed Coconut Oil is also a source of phenolic nutrients. (6)
  • Sugar itself can be a source of inflammation so limiting sugar in beverages or other foods is generally a good idea for a health promoting menu plan.
  • Wine can be a source of phenolic nutrients, however it can also be a migraine trigger for some migraine sufferers (like me). Some of the benefits of wine are provided by the free (not-bound-within-a-larger-protein) amino acid content and other free amino acids in wine may be part of the migraine cause. Due to a genetic difference I found a bulk supplier of powdered free amino acids and tried Methionine and Glycine in water. A half teaspoon of each provides a cheerful mood boost without causing excess energy boosting effects – I tried a teaspoon of each initially and it could cause sleeplessness if taken late in the evening and almost too much of a energy boost to the point of increased heart rate. The free amino acids are acidic and cause a puckery tart wine effect. Adding an ounce or two, 2-4 Tablespoons of a 100% purple grape juice or cherry juice or black currant juice could add a hint of sweetness and makes the beverage slightly more juice or wine like. A deficiency of Methionine whether due to a genetic difficulty in metabolism such as I have or due to a dietary lack can increase the body’s need for Nrf2. (7) A deficiency of Nrf2 could negatively effect the body’s supply of the amino acids glycine and serine and it is involved in their biosynthesis pathways. (13) The pathway, called the pentose phosphate pathway, is shown in Figure 2: (14). So speculatively glycine wouldn’t be helping make Nrf2 but if there was a problem with supply of Nrf2 then there might be a shortage of glycine or serine, and they do have biological roles throughout the body.

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.

  1. Martin L Pall, Nrf2, a master regulator of detoxification and also antioxidant, antiinflammatory and other cytoprotective mechanisms, is raised by health
    promoting factors., Stephen Levine, Acta Physiologica Sinica, February 25, 2015, 67(1): 1–18  http://www.actaps.com.cn/qikan/manage/wenzhang/2015-1-01.pdf (1)  // quoted in: Joseph Mercola, The Harmful Effects of Electromagnetic Fields Explained, wakeup-world.com, Dec. 22, 2017, https://wakeup-world.com/2017/12/22/the-harmful-effects-of-electromagnetic-fields-explained/ (1)
  2. https://effectiveselfcare.info/2017/10/15/g3-5-negative-stress-chemicals-may-cause-symptoms-like-itching-migraines-pain-or-ibs/ (2)
  3. https://effectiveselfcare.info/2017/10/15/antihistamines-may-help-if-genetic-tendency-overproduce-histamine/ (3)
  4. https://effectiveselfcare.info/2017/10/15/g3-6-1-calcium-sparklets-and-oxidative-stress/ (4)
  5. https://effectiveselfcare.info/2017/10/15/trpv-channels-comfort-vanilla-heat-capsaicin/ (5)
  6. Marina AM, Man YB, Nazimah SA, Amin I.,  Antioxidant capacity and phenolic acids of virgin coconut oil. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2009;60 Suppl 2:114-23. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19115123 (6)
  7. Lin AH, Chen HW, Liu CT, Tsai CW, Lii CK., Activation of Nrf2 is required for up-regulation of the π class of glutathione S-transferase in rat primary hepatocytes with L-methionine starvation., J Agric Food Chem. 2012 Jul 4;60(26):6537-45. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22676582 (7)
  8. Yu-Kun Jennifer Zhang, Kai Connie Wu, Curtis D. Klaassen, Genetic Activation of Nrf2 Protects against Fasting-Induced Oxidative Stress in Livers of Mice., March 18, 2013http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0059122 (8)
  9. Which Nrf2 Products have Peer-Reviewed Studies – Beware of Phony Science, nrf2.comhttp://www.nrf2.com/?page_id=38 (9) Stuff to read later list: */Curcumin restores Nrf2 levels and prevents quinolinic acid-induced neurotoxicity. */Curcumin attenuates Nrf2 signaling defect, oxidative stress in muscle and glucose intolerance in high fat diet-fed mice. */Effects of a Water-Soluble Curcumin Protein Conjugate vs. Pure Curcumin in a Diabetic Model of Erectile Dysfunction. */Curcumin enhances non-opsonic phagocytosis of Plasmodium falciparum through up-regulation of CD36 surface expression on monocytes/macrophages. */Function and regulation of the Cyp2a5/CYP2A6 genes in response to toxic insults in the liver.– Curcumin is a vitamin/hormone D analog and is an extract of the root vegetable Turmeric which provides the bright yellow color to Indian curry spice mixes. CYP enzymes are actively involved in vitamin/hormone D metabolism.  /Yes, Vitamin D is needed to produce Nrf2: (15)/ */Role of Nrf2 in preventing ethanol-induced oxidative stress and lipid accumulation. – so yes, speculatively, a deficiency might increase risk of fatty liver disease. */Effects of aging and methionine restriction applied at old age on ROS generation and oxidative damage in rat liver mitochondria. */Extremely low-frequency electromagnetic fields activate the antioxidant pathway Nrf2 in a Huntington’s disease-like rat model. */Quercetin ameliorates cardiovascular, hepatic, and metabolic changes in diet-induced metabolic syndrome in rats. */Chamomile Confers Protection against Hydrogen Peroxide-Induced Toxicity through Activation of Nrf2 -Mediated Defense Response.
  10. Bhaskaran, Natarajan & Shukla, Sanjeev & Gupta, Sanjay. (2012). Abstract 2594: Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla L.) upregulates heme oxygenase-1 through activation of ERK-Nrf2 signaling: Cytoprotective mechanism against oxidative damage. Cancer Research. 72. 2594-2594. 10.1158/1538-7445.AM2012-2594. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/275442168_Abstract_2594_Chamomile_Matricaria_chamomilla_L_upregulates_heme_oxygenase-1_through_activation_of_ERK-Nrf2_signaling_Cytoprotective_mechanism_against_oxidative_damage (10)
  11. Maria de Lourdes Reis Giada, Chapter 4: Food Phenolic Compounds: Main Classes, Sources and Their Antioxidant Power, Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology » “Oxidative Stress and Chronic Degenerative Diseases – A Role for Antioxidants”, book edited by José A. Morales-González, ISBN 978-953-51-1123-8, Published: May 22, 2013    https://www.intechopen.com/books/oxidative-stress-and-chronic-degenerative-diseases-a-role-for-antioxidants/food-phenolic-compounds-main-classes-sources-and-their-antioxidant-power (11)
  12. Roman Chamomile, Penn State Hershey Medical Center, http://pennstatehershey.adam.com/content.aspx?productId=107&pid=33&gid=000233 (12)
  13. Gina M. DeNicola, Pei-Hsuan Chen, Edouard Mullarky, Jessica A. Sudderth, Zeping Hu, David Wu, Hao Tang, Yang Xie, John M. Asara, Kenneth E. Huffman, Ignacio I. Wistuba, John D. Minna, Ralph J. DeBerardinis, and Lewis C. Cantley., NRF2 regulates serine biosynthesis in non-small cell lung cancer., Nat Genet. 2015 Dec; 47(12): 1475–1481.   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4721512/ (13)
  14. Albena T.Dinkova-KostovaAndrey Y.AbramovThe emerging role of Nrf2 in mitochondrial function., Free Radical Biology and Medicine, Vol 88, Part B, Nov 2015, Pages 179-188, Part of special issueNrf2 Regulated Redox Signaling and Metabolism in Physiology and Medicine Edited by 
    G E Mann, H J Forman, M Yamamoto, T Kensler, J D Hayes,

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0891584915002129 (14)

  15. K Nakai, H Fujii, K Kono, S goto, R Kitazawa, S Kitazawa, M Hirata, M Shinohara, M Fukagawa, S Nishi, Vitamin D Activates the Nrf2-Keap1 Antioxidant Pathway and Ameliorates Nephropathy in Diabetic Rats., American Journal of Hypertension, Volume 27, Issue 4, 1 April 2014, Pages 586–595, https://academic.oup.com/ajh/article/27/4/586/2743232 (15)