Alternatively Speaking: Passover, the healthy way

Alternative medicine enthusiast Natalie Marx answers your questions: Are there any health benefits from eating matza?

Matza 370 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Matza 370
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
While winter is the time where we try to conserve energy and reduce activity, spring is a time of regeneration and new beginnings. Seeds sprout, flowers bloom, and the sun begins to warm the earth. By simply taking a walk outside you will feel the sense of renewal and new life all around.
Passover is the time of year when we embark, with no holding back, on a rampage to eradicate bread crumbs. After using every possible anti-hametz implement, including dust busters, toothbrushes, scouring pads, bleach and blow torches, we then conduct a candle-lit check of every corner of our homes. Let this Passover lead us down our own path of spiritual cleansing, seeking the crevices of our inner selves and keeping in mind the task of refining ourselves and not just our homes.
Q. Dear Natalie, Please can you inform me of any health benefits from eating matza?
A. There are no major differences in eating leavened or unleavened bread. Apart from the leavening agent, the two breads are similar. Since unleavened bread is any type of bread that does not rely on yeast, baking soda or baking powder it can be good for people who are prone to developing candida albicans infections, or yeast infections, thereby eliminating foods made with baker's yeast.
In terms of nutrition, the two are similar; plain white bread leavened with yeast contains approximately 75 calories, 2 grams of protein, 14 grams of carbohydrate and less than 1 gram of dietary fibre per ounce. When we compare this to plain, unsalted matzo we have 112 calories per ounce, 3 grams of protein, 23 grams of carbohydrate and 1 gram of dietary fibre. Matza is slightly higher in protein, carbohydrate and calories than leavened bread because it is dry, with about a gram of water per ounce.
In contrast, white bread contains 8 to 10 grams of water per ounce. Both contain only small amounts of B vitamins and iron. Unsalted matzo bread is sodium free, whereas most commercially prepared white bread contains about 145 milligrams of sodium.
To get the most nutrition from matza I recommend buying one made with whole wheat. It's recommended to consume 25 grams of fiber each day. An ounce of whole-wheat matzo contains only 100 calories, 4 grams protein and 3.4 grams fiber.
Q. Dear Natalie, we dip our parsley in it, we mix egg in it and eat it like it is soup…Is salt water good for us?
A. The sodium component of salt does indeed play an essential role in our bodies. It balances and helps the absorption and transportation of nutrients across cell membranes. Among other things, it also helps to maintain blood pressure and blood volume.
After vigorous exercise, when we sweat we are prone to losing more water and sodium than usual. An important part of any athlete’s diet should be a little salt water.
Decreased levels of sodium can cause cramps and therefore decrease our physical performance. Salt water spray solutions are often used to keep our nasal passages from drying up during the winter months, when the weather becomes cold and dry.
If the nasal passage is left dry, it can lead to dry skin which can lead to bacterial infection. Dryness of the nasal passages may lead to the crusting of the skin that lies within the nasal area, which may possibly result in the development of bacterial infections.
Probably the number one household remedy for cleaning wounds both internally (oral) or externally is with the use of salt water. Cleansing with salt water will work towards removing bacteria and therefore preventing infection. 
It's very important to remember, however, that too much salt can raise your blood pressure, which puts you at increased risk of health problems such as heart disease and stroke. Since a lot of the food (75 percent) we already eat has salt in it, make sure to use less salt and more water during Passover.
Q. As always with every festival, I end up consuming far too much food and not moving very much either. Can you recommend some home-made detox teas that I can try during the holiday?
A. Different combinations of herbal teas can help in speeding up the detoxification process. Traditionally used in India, an especially good mix for blood and colon cleansing is Green tea with added cardamom seed, cinnamon bark and black peppercorn.
In China, a commonly used trio of herbs for natural detoxification is Green tea mixed with cimicifuga and jasmine flower. For flavor and healing, you may want to add honeysuckle. Usually after several days of over-eating and drinking, a good liver cleanse is just what we need. Try making a wonderful liver cleansing tea using either one or a combination of the following; milk thistle, dandelion root, red clover and echinachea. These all work to stimulate the liver to improve its toxin-removing functionality. Dandelion is in-fact a mild diuretic. It aids the body to rid of excess fluids without disrupting the balance of potassium and other minerals in our bodies.
Lastly, I recommend using ginger. Not only is it very effective in detoxification, but it also aids digestion. Ginger helps to increase circulations and move toxins out from the body.
This column is brought to you as general information only and unless stated otherwise is not medical advice nor is it based on medical experiments.

This column is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. For more information about specific problems, please contact a doctor.

Ask Natalie: If you have a health query and would like an alternative answer then email Natalie with your question at [email protected].

Natalie runs a clinic both in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem offering a wide range of natural treatment. Healing is achieved using homeopathy, reflexology, massage, flower remedies and nutritional wisdom.

To make an appointment please email [email protected].
Someone Once Said: ‘If I'd known I was going to live so long, I'd have taken better care of myself.’ - Leon Eldred