1. Coconut oil can kill the germs that cause tooth decay

    Forget fluoride -- try coconut instead

    I have to admit I got a laugh out of a campaign for water fluoridation in Oregon that claims the "benefits" include a 25 percent reduction in tooth decay.

    Are these folks easily impressed or what?

    Twenty-five percent is not worth the risk of thinning bone, discolored teeth, and brain damage, especially since there are much safer and far more effective ways to get rid of tooth decay.

    And now, one new study points to what could be the tastiest cavity-beater yet.

    Coconut oil, one of the healthiest plant oils around, has long been recognized for its antimicrobial and antibacterial powers, especially in the stomach. That's because stomach enzymes break down the fatty acids, and the compound created by this process can kill bacteria.

    The trick is unlocking that power without having to actually swallow the coconut oil first, and researchers accomplished that by treating the coconut oil with enzymes similar to the ones seen in digestion.

    Then, they put this enzyme-treated coconut oil to the test against the Streptococcus bacteria.

    Actually, it wasn't much of a test. The bacteria never really had a chance -- the enzyme-treated coconut oil wiped it out, including the acid-producing Streptococcus mutans strain that builds up inside the mouth and rots teeth.

    The researchers carried out similar experiments with vegetable oil and olive oil, but only the coconut oil killed bacteria.

    And for an encore, the enzyme-treated coconut oil also killed the yeast that causes thrush.

    Of course, there's no way to get your hands on enzyme-treated coconut oil just yet without swallowing the oil yourself, and by then it's too late to expect it to kill off any bacteria clinging to your teeth.

    But this definitely holds promise for toothpaste and mouthwash down the road... as long as they don't ruin it by combining it with fluoride.

  2. Garlic 100 times more effective than drugs at killing food-borne bacteria

    Take two cloves of garlic and call me in the morning

    You know what garlic does to vampires, but that's nothing compared to what it can do to bacteria.

    Garlic is one of nature's most powerful antibiotics -- so powerful it can cure MRSA and staph infections. And now, researchers say it can even wipe out the most common cause of food poisoning 100 times better than two powerful antibiotics.

    That's a claim as bold as the unmistakably pungent taste of garlic -- but it's backed by a new study in which a garlic-derived compound, diallyl sulfide, was put to the test against campylobacter bacteria.

    That's a fecal bug that often finds a way into food -- try not to think about it! --where it can cause days of misery in the form of diarrhea, stomach pain, cramps, fever and more.

    It's one of the bacteria often blamed for Montezuma's Revenge. And in extreme scenarios, it can even trigger Guillain-Barre syndrome, a nervous-system disorder that could lead to paralysis.

    But garlic wiped it out -- and wiped it out even when the bacteria was using the main trick that helps it beat antibiotics.

    Campylobacter likes to camp out behind biofilm. That's essentially a layer of slime -- but to antibiotics such as erythromycin and ciprofloxacin, it may as well be a brick wall.

    When campylobacter is behind biofilm, it's 1,000 times more resistant to antibiotics than in its free form.

    To the diallyl sulfide, however, that biofilm has all the strength of tissue paper, according to the study in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.

    If that's not enough of a reason to start adding garlic to all your dishes, the same researchers found in earlier experiments that garlic can wipe out other disease-causing bugs often found in food -- including Listeria and E. coli O157:H7.

    Garlic is also a powerful antifungal agent, and I've given my patients garlic extract -- allium sativum -- for athlete's foot as well as the candidiasis responsible for both thrush and yeast infections, just to name two.

    It can also help lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol, fight inflammation, thin the blood, fight the flu, and lower blood pressure.

    All that, and it tastes great too.

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