Researchers analysing soil from Ireland long thought to have medicinal properties have discovered that it contains a previously unknown strain of bacteria which is effective against four of the top six superbugs that are resistant to antibiotics, including MRSA.
Antibiotic resistant superbugs could kill up to 1.3 million people in Europe by 2050, according to recent research.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) describes the problem as “one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today”.
The new strain of bacteria was discovered by a team based in Swansea University Medical School, made up of researchers from Wales, Brazil, Iraq and Northern Ireland.
They have named the new strain Streptomyces sp. myrophorea.
The soil they analysed originated from an area of Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, which is known as the Boho Highlands. It is an area of alkaline grassland and the soil is reputed to have healing properties.
“For an immune system to work properly, it needs to be confronted by an infection in the first year of life,” says Greaves. “Without that confrontation with an infection, the system is left unprimed and will not work properly.”
And this issue is becoming an increasingly worrying problem. Parents, for laudable reasons, are raising children in homes where antiseptic wipes, antibacterial soaps and disinfected floorwashes are the norm. Dirt is banished for the good of the household.
In addition, there is less breast feeding of infants and a tendency for them to have fewer social contacts with other children. Both trends reduce babies’ contact with germs. This has benefits – but also comes with side effects. Because young children are not being exposed to bugs and infections as they once were, their immune systems are not being properly primed.
This is a newsletter from Dr Al Sears wherein he differentiates between the considerable health benefits of low or no sugar dark cocolate and the (what I find addictive) commercial sweet chocolate.
If your house is anything like mine after the holidays, you probably have lots of leftover sweets and candies.
This is also the time of year when you see lots of articles hyping chocolate’s health benefits.
I saw one recently that said eating 3.5 ounces of chocolate a day — that’s a large Dove bar, two bags of M&M’s or 22 Hershey’s Kisses — is linked with a lower risk of heart disease and stroke.1
But here’s what they’re not telling you…
Those studies were paid for by the chocolate industry. In fact Mars, the company that makes Dove and M&M’s, paid for 100 separate studies on chocolate’s health benefits.
Not surprisingly, 98 of those studies showed a positive result. It reminds me of the old saying, “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”
And unfortunately, those commercial chocolate candies you find on your supermarket shelves — with their added sugar, fat and calories — aren’t a healthy choice.
However, there is an ingredient in dark chocolate that I consider to be a superfood.
The nutrients in cocoa — the bean that dark chocolate is made from — are high in antioxidants called flavonoids. Flavonoids are the natural antioxidants in fruits, vegetables, tea and wine.
In fact, cocoa contains up to four times the flavonoids found in tea.2 These flavonoids can reduce your risk of a host of serious illnesses, including:
And now you can add another benefit to the list.
The cocoa in dark chocolate reduces your risk of diabetes. Let me explain…
Cocoa contains another kind of antioxidant called polyphenols. These naturally-occurring compounds can improve insulin resistance and help your body use insulin more efficiently. This in turn helps balance blood sugar levels.3
A large study of more than 900 people found that those who eat dark chocolate at least once a week had a lower prevalence of diabetes and were at lower risk for diabetes four to five years later.4
A separate study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that cocoa significantly improves blood flow in people suffering from type 2 diabetes.5
Poor blood circulation is one of the most serious health hazards a diabetic faces. If left untreated, circulation can get so bad that it can lead to amputations — and even a heart attack.
In the study, researchers divided diabetics into two groups. The first ate about 1,000 mg of cocoa three times a day for four weeks. A second group consumed about 25 mg.
By the end of the month, the higher-cocoa group’s circulation improved from “severely impaired” to normal. The low-cocoa group’s circulation remained unchanged.
Cocoa’s power to improve blood flow lies in its ability to kick production of nitric oxide (NO) into high gear.
NO causes the linings of your blood vessels to relax and open up, improving circulation, lowering blood pressue, and helping your body to deliver oxygen and other nutrients in the blood more efficiently.
When you’re looking for a good source of chocolate, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Check the percentage of cocoa. Candy companies are aware that dark chocolate provides health benefits. And some mislead you by calling their product “dark.” In fact, some brands of “dark chocolate” contain as little as 30% cocoa. To get the antioxidant health benefits, choose a bar that contains 75% cocoa or more.
Beware of extra ingredients. Avoid bars with added ingredients like caramel, liquor, toffee and fruit-flavored fillings. All that additional sugar will spike blood sugar levels.
Look at the label. It’s important to check the label to see how much sugar was added to your chocolate. You want to keep it as low as possible. But avoid bars that are labeled sugar-free. They typically contain dangerous artificial sweeteners or other chemical additives.
My favorite way to enjoy chocolate is the same way the early natives of the Americas did. The Aztecs in Mexico, the Mayans in Guatemala and the Incas in Peru all cultivated cocoa.
They fermented and roasted the beans to make a powerful chocolate drink. They called it the “Drink of the Gods,” because of its many health benefits. It was served as a bitter, frothy liquid, and often mixed with spices and wine. It was also recommended as an aphrodisiac and strength-giver.