Posts tagged with "Turmeric"

The great white hope: 10 bleach-free teeth-whitening alternatives

March 6, 2019

If you would like to flash somebody a smile, but you are self-conscious about your less-than-pearly whites, you have plenty of company. In a recent study conducted among professional members of the American Association of Orthodontists, nearly 90% said that their patients requested tooth-whitening procedures.

In fact, the association says, the demand for tooth whitening has grown almost exponentially in the United States over the past 20 years.

But, don’t just reach for the bleach to whiten those choppers. Real Simple magazine recommends ten alternative treatments that will brighten your teeth without harsh chemicals. And the variety of choices may surprise you—among them:

  • Banana peels: Believe it or not, this option even is recommended by dentists. Bananas are high in potassium, magnesium, and manganese, and their peel is an effective tool for teeth whitening. The pros advise starting with a banana that is just barely ripe, because that’s when they have the optimum amount of potassium for whitening and brightening teeth. Cut off a small part of the peel and rub the inside of it against your teeth for about two minutes, covering as many teeth as thoroughly as possible in that time. When you’re done, be sure to brush your teeth. Bananas are loaded with sugar, so properly cleaning your teeth after using this treatment is essential. An important note: Limit the use of the banana peels to just once a day or even just once a week for optimal results.
  • Activated charcoal: Rubbing a black, sooty-looking substance all over your teeth in order to brighten your smile might seem counterintuitive, but, Real Simple says, it’s quite effective. Activated charcoal removes toxins from your mouth while also killing bad bacteria, preventing cavities, and keeping the pH balanced. Some users opt for charcoal toothpaste or polish, while others buy charcoal pills from the store, crack them open, and use the powder mixed with water as their toothpaste. You might miss the minty freshness of traditional toothpaste, and your charcoal stained toothbrush might gross you out a bit, but hopefully your new, whiter smile will be worth it.
  • Strawberries and baking soda: Mix one strawberry with a half-teaspoon of baking soda and applying the mixture to your teeth for five minutes. When you brush your teeth with a traditional toothpaste afterwards (a must!), you also might consider flossing. Those strawberry seeds can get stuck between your molars.
  • Turmeric: People have been singing the praises of turmeric. Some dip a wet toothbrush directly into the turmeric powder (and then brace themselves, because it doesn’t taste very good), and then let the turmeric sit on their teeth for a few minutes before rinsing thoroughly. After that, you can brush your teeth with your regular toothpaste and, once all remnants of the yellow powder have disappeared, you should have a whiter smile to show for it.
  • Coconut oil: This might be just another use for readers who already use coconut oil for everything from a moisturizer, to a hair mask, but “oil pulling” with coconut oil (using it like a mouthwash) seems to have some merit. But it seems to be a lot of work: For the most effective results, you should oil pull daily for 20 minutes—but, Real Simple advises, “feel free to start at five if your jaw gets tired,” and adds, “Don’t go crazy on the amount of oil you swish around—most people can use about a teaspoon of oil and see results.”
  • Lemon or orange peels: People have seen some success in using the rind of lemons and oranges for teeth whitening. If you do this, be sure to rinse thoroughly after, or even brush your teeth with your regular toothpaste to avoid acid erosion of your teeth.. Some people simply add a few drops of orange essential oil to their toothpaste instead, which is safer for your teeth, according to this study.
  • Lemon juice and baking soda: Mix lemon juice with a little bit of baking soda before drying your teeth with a cotton ball or swab to prep for the treatment. Apply the combo to your teeth, let it sit for a minute, and then gently brush it off. Be sure not to keep it on for more than a minute. After that, you run the risk of enamel erosion.
  • Apple cider vinegar: Dentists recommend creating a solution that is one part apple cider vinegar and two parts water. Swish it around in your mouth for about a minute, rinse; and then wait at least a half hour to brush your teeth to avoid damaging your enamel. This won’t lead to an instantly brighter smile—but if it’s used properly and consistently, it’s a reliable, long-term organic tooth whitening alternative.
  • Guava leaves: Guava juice is great, but guava leaves are apparently the part of the fruit with the benefits. Crush the leaves up with a mortar and pestle to create a coarse toothpaste. Brush with it like you would normally, and rinse. Unlike some citrus-based teeth whitening solutions, guava leaves aren’t acidic, so you don’t have to worry about enamel erosion if you keep it on for too long. Bonus: Guava leaves might help alleviate tooth pain, too.
  • Clay: Most of us wouldn’t think of putting clay in our mouths, but it does have some tooth polishing potential. Use water and clay to create a paste, and then apply to your teeth for about two minutes. Over time, your teeth should appear whiter and feel cleaner, too, with zero risk of damage or sensitivity.

So, if you want to look as bright and white as your local news anchor, your favorite actress, or even your next-door neighbor—and probably do it at a lower cost—reach into the cupboard or refrigerator instead of the medicine cabinet.

Nervous? Bring this list along the next time you go to the dentist and ask for a qualified opinion!

Research contact: @RealSimple

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inspect the paprika before you pour it on: Your spice jars could be colonized by bugs

January 3, 2019

A dash of spice adds life to any meal—but when there is actual living matter in the spice jar, that’s a recipe for disaster. Unfortunately, according to a recent report by The Huffington Post, we all should give our spices a close inspection before sprinkling them onto the entrée. They could be totally fine, but they also could be providing a cozy home—and a convenient food source—to a colony of insects.

Many cooks have experienced the utter shock and revulsion of opening a jar—especially a container of paprika—to find it moving. Sometimes the culprits are tiny bugs; others, it’s wee little worms, or even insect eggs.

The HuffPost interviewed Jody. Green, a board-certified entomologist at Purdue University, to find out more. Green said that, although many spices invite insect invasion— including turmeric, coriander, cumin, fennel and dry ginger—the creepy crawlies really seem to love spices made of peppers.

″Spices are rich in minerals and vitamins,” she told the online news outlet—and paprika and cayenne have the highest prevalence of insect filth, compared to other imported spices.”

Green noted that insects are “particularly fond of products derived from dried sweet peppers/chiles/red pepper—products like red pepper flakes, paprika, chili powder, and cayenne.” Indeed, she said, “The pepper family appears to contain the nutritional requirements necessary for multiple generations of stored product beetles to successfully sustain life.”

Paprika is especially prone to insect invasion because it is a spice that cooks in the United States don’t use very often. It sits in our spice racks for long periods of time, allowing insects to do their thing, unbothered. Specifically, the most common pests found in spices, particularly paprika and cayenne, are the cigarette beetle and the drugstore beetle.

Green described both of the beetle breeds as reddish-brown and “about the size of a sesame seed.” They’re active fliers, so it’s not uncommon to hear them hitting surfaces in your kitchen, if they escape the spice jar. Green explained that they live in dried tobacco and pharmaceuticals (as their name implies), but also pet food, cereal, spices, and dried fruit.

Sometimes your spices may look like they’re infested with tiny worms, but they actually are the same beetles, just in baby form. “These particular pests … undergo a complete metamorphosis (like a butterfly),” Green told the daily news outlet. “They have an egg, larva, pupa, and [an] adult stage. The worms that [you see in the] spice are the larval form. They are cream-colored, have three pairs of short legs, an orange head capsule, dense hair, and chewing mouthparts.”

Yuck! And since most of the spices consumed in America have been imported, and “it is not rare for imported product to be contaminated with ‘filth’ (i.e. insects parts),” there is every chance a product could have been infested after harvest, but before coming to a store near you.

However, she told The HuffPost, they also can “worm their way in” at the processing plant or in the store. “Cigarette beetles and drugstore beetles have been known to penetrate through packaging, tin foil, plastic, and sheet metal.”

To stop bugs from making a meal of your spices, here’s what Green suggested during her interview:

  • Inspect the product at the store. Look for damaged packaging. If the container is transparent, look for larvae and beetles inside.
  • Stick your spices in the freezer for four days (make sure your freezer is set at zero degrees Fahrenheit) before putting them in your spice rack or pantry.
  • If you’ve bought your spice in bulk, keep what you’re saving for future use in the freezer. Before freezing, divide it into glass containers that are airtight.
  • Practice stock rotation using the FIFO (first in, first out) rule. Use your oldest products first, and keep them at the front of your pantry so you’ll be more likely to grab them first. Then move on to newer products, which you keep at the back of the pantry and rotate forward when you’re ready to use them.
  • Clean up any spills in your kitchen as soon as they happen.
  • Commercial pheromone traps are available, but they’re species-specific and may not be good at decreasing the population, as they attract a single sex and the pests may have already mated.

Now go forth and inspect your spices with great trepidation.

esearch contact: jgreen17@unl.edu